- 9 February 2022
- 3 minutes
Maayan Weisstub is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice incorporates collage, illustration, drawing, painting, VR filters and large-scale public installations.
With a considerable social media following before she came to the RCA to study for our MA Information Experience Design, Maayan’s work is often humorous but always provoking – leaving her viewers with new perspectives on the human and even the non-human.
Where did your artistic practice start?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been communicating through creativity, whether this was music, writing or drawing. I started taking art more seriously during my early teenage years. Around age fifteen, I discovered animation, collage-making and film. Art was a shelter, and a safe place to express myself.
I knew then that I wanted to be an artist.
“The MA Information Experience Design is a contemporary programme that invites students to create in different media and to explore…”
Why did our MA Information Experience Design appeal to you as a degree?
It's openness to new forms of storytelling appealed to me. I wanted to expand my practice, learn to use new techniques and mediums. Growing my research abilities was another reason for my decision to come to the RCA; I wanted to add another layer of intellect to my works.
The multidisciplinary and multicultural orientation of the MA programme, alongside the solid tradition of the RCA, intrigued me. The MA Information Experience Design is a contemporary programme that invites students to create in different media and to explore…
You’ve gained a considerable following on social media. How do you feel about these platforms and the way your work fits in them?
I have complex feelings about these platforms. On the one hand it excites me. The fact that I can share instantly helps me let go of my work. I enjoy the feedback and the dialogues, which can sometimes even turn into friendships or collaborations. I have had a lot of opportunities in the past few years thanks to social media.
On the other hand, I am aware of all the dark aspects of social media including the stress and anxiety it can provoke in relationships, productivity and life-style choices. And don’t get me started on art censorship on social media…
Many of my works are a good fit for these platforms, but some require more than a quick look to comprehend. There is also the very different experience of seeing and meeting an artwork in real life. I value that encounter, and believe that some works have to be experienced in real life.
“I would like to propose ways of viewing the body without critiquing its superficiality, without feeling uncomfortable about it, in a way that encourages us to simply enjoy it.”
Your work can be really humorous particularly around bodies – bringing out their hidden presence in the everyday. Why are bodies such an integral part of your work?
The body is an integral part of our life. We are born in it, live in it and die in it. It is such a great part of our being, yet it is temporary. This paradox gives rise to a lot of fascinating questions.
The body is always present, consciously and unconsciously. Bodies are in our face all the time. In social media (obviously) and in our collective culture, bodies are mostly objectified. I would like to propose ways of viewing the body without critiquing its superficiality, without feeling uncomfortable about it, in a way that encourages us to simply enjoy it.
How does the inanimate world function in your work? For example in your Breathing Objects installation, you seem to be trying to communicate that our relationship with objects is far more than functional.
The line differentiating the animate and the inanimate worlds has never been a clear one for me, whether due to unconscious projections on the inanimate or due to a conscious playfulness.
The inanimate world plays a central role in my work. I try to portray the life that we give to inanimate objects through sentimentality. Even though the objects we encounter every day do not communicate with us in a straightforward way, they do contain emotions and memories within their being. In my breathing objects installation (Mnḗmē), the objects breathe as a metaphor to the life they hold within.
Can you tell us a bit about the artists or other practitioners that have inspired your work?
My influences generally derive from both inner and external experiences. I draw from my thoughts and internal feelings, and from the external reality of people, media and surroundings. Everything plays a part. Self-reflection can lead to new understandings, which I then try to capture using artistic tools – be they collage, filming, sculpting, etc.
It’s always hard for me to name specific artists, because I’m inspired on an ongoing basis by the artworks I may be exposed to there and then. This morning, for instance, I can say that I’m inspired by Ken Loach, Louise Bourgeois, and Raymond Carver.
You finished at the RCA in 2021. Where do you want to go now with your practice? What would be your dream project?
I wish to stay in London for the time being, to continue developing my practice, creating and showing in physical exhibitions as well as on online platforms.
My dream project would be to create a sort of parallel reality. The possibility of building an imagined place, a fantasy world using advanced technologies such as AR and VR, combining these with physical structures that enable the audience to travel to another place for a while and to experience something new.